To start the 2017 campaign, there were early statements, breakouts, and even some stunners. Here are my winners and losers:
- Alabama Crimson Tide: Although quarterback Jalen Hurts only passed for 96 yards and a touchdown, the defense was the story having two interceptions and three sacks as the Tide held off the Florida State Seminoles 24-7. Head coach Nick Saban is now 11-0 against former assistants.
- Michigan Wolverines: The Wolverines rushed for 215 yards and the defense had six sacks as they pulled away from the Florida Gators 33-17. Even though they had to replace virtually every starter from last year’s team, the youth movement is on the rise in Ann Arbor.
- Maryland Terrapins: Quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome threw for two touchdowns and rushed for a touchdown. The defense had five sacks and made big stops late that helped the Terps defeat the Texas Longhorns 51-41, great win for the Terps and coach D.J. Durkin.
- Penn State RB Sequon Barkley: Barkley rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns as the Nittany Lions dominated the Akron Zips 52-0. You’re going to be hearing his name a lot in the Heisman conversation.
- UAB Blazers: Quarterback A.J. Erdely threw for two touchdowns. The offense rushed for 252 yards and two touchdowns as they pounded the Alabama A&M Bulldogs 38-7 in the Blazers’ first football game in two seasons.
- Liberty Flames: We’re going to give love to a couple of lower division teams, first, quarterback Steven Calvert threw for 447 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown. Cornerback Chris Turner had a pick six as the Flames, who are in their final season in the FCS, upset the Baylor Bears 48-45. Ironically, head coach Turner Gill (bet a lot of you didn’t know that), had one win against a Big 12 team in his two seasons as head coach at Kansas.
- Howard Bison: Another FCS team getting some love is the Howard Bison, quarterback Caylin Newton (Cam’s younger brother), a true freshman had 330 total offensive yards and three total touchdowns as the Bison stunned the UNLV Rebels 43-40. It’s the biggest upset in college football history, via point spread. The Bison were a 45-point underdog, they also pocketed a cool $600,000 for their athletic department, not bad at all.
- UCLA QB Josh Rosen: Rosen threw for 292 yards and four touchdowns…in the fourth quarter including the go-ahead to wide receiver Jordan Lasley with 43 seconds left as the Bruins overcame a 34-point deficit and defeat the Texas A&M Aggies 45-44. No words for this one.
- Florida State Seminoles: The backfield being held to just 40 rushing yards and turnovers hindered the Noles’ offense in their loss to Alabama. They also have lost quarterback Deondre Francois to a serious knee injury.
- Florida Gators: Despite two pick sixes by their defense, the offense couldn’t hold their end as turnovers and being only 2 for 13 on third downs stalled drives in their loss to Michigan.
- Texas Longhorns: Though the Longhorns scored three non-offensive touchdowns via a pick six, a blocked field goal return for a TD, and a punt return for a TD, there seems to still be some issues at Texas. The defense gave up nearly 500 total yards in their loss to Maryland. Not a good start to the Tom Herman era in Austin.
- Baylor Bears and UNLV Rebels: Both fell victim to determined FCS teams that weren’t just playing these games for their school’s payday. The Bears’ defense gave up 585 total yards in their loss to Liberty, not the start new coach Matt Rhule wanted. As for the Rebels, well, their defense gave up over 300 rushing yards in their loss to Howard. This is the Rebels’ 50th season in football and they’ll be forever in the history books but for all the wrong reasons.
- BYU Cougars: The Cougars had -5 (yes, you read that right) rushing yards and only had six first downs as they couldn’t get their offense going as they were shutout by the LSU Tigers 27-0.
- Texas A&M Aggies: Questionable play-calling and poor time management cost the Aggies as they were unable to hold onto a 34-point deficit, ultimately losing to UCLA. Coach Kevin Sumlin’s seat was already hot to begin with, safe to say, it’s burning now.
Storylines Going Into Week Two:
Louisville visits North Carolina. Northwestern battles Duke. Auburn meets Clemson. Ohio State hosts Oklahoma in a battle of top ten teams. Georgia travels to South Bend to play Notre Dame. Stanford plays USC in an early Pac 12 showdown.
Heisman Trophy Finalists Include Joe Burrow, Justin fields, Jalen Hurts, Chase Young
The finalists for the Heisman Trophy have been unveiled and LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and defensive end Chase Young are headed to New York this weekend for the 85th edition of the award for the most outstanding college football player.
The winner will be announced on Saturday night during a ceremony that kicks off at 8pm est on ESPN.
“In my opinion, he should win it,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said, according to ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura. “In my opinion, he’s going to win it. The best thing about Joe is he’s a team player. All he wants to do is win this game. Individual awards are not high on his list. That’s what makes him such a great team player.”
While Burrow may have the most momentum heading into the ceremony, and is the likely number 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Young is the first Ohio State defensive player to finish in the top four in Heisman voting, and Young is the first defensive player from the Big Ten to do so since Michigan’s Charles Woodson won the award all the back in 1997.
Young led the nation with 16.5 sacks and in tackles for loss per game with 1.9.
Additionally, Ohio State is the seventh school to have multiple players invited to the Heisman ceremony in the same year, but the first to have both an offensive player and a defensive player.
Rutgers Brings Back Greg Schiano with Eight-Year, $32 Million Deal
Rutgers is bringing back Greg Schiano as their head coach following a lengthy negotiation process that has led to an eight-year, $32 million deal, according to ESPN.
“Today we open the next great chapter for Rutgers Football,” Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs said. “Coach Schiano is absolutely the best person to lead our program. He brings a quality of leadership and integrity that will make all of us proud in the years ahead. I couldn’t be more excited for our student-athletes and our fans.
“A lot of hard work lies ahead, but we will all keep chopping together with Coach to achieve success in the Big Ten. We all know what the goal is and we all must do our part. I can’t express enough appreciation to Greg and Christy Schiano, the first family of Rutgers Football. Welcome back!”
Schiano went 68-67 from 2001-2011 as Rutgers head coach.
“Rutgers University and this football program have meant the world to me and my family,” Schiano said in a statement put out by the school. “I arrived here in 2000 with the goal to build a program that would be a source of pride for the state of New Jersey and develop great young men. I look forward to embracing that challenge once again. This is a great opportunity for all of Rutgers to pull together to get us back to where we all know we belong. It will take everyone on this campus and in the State of Rutgers to get this done.”
Schiano left Rutgers in 2012 to become the head coach of the Tamp Bay Buccaneers, in a tenure that lasted just two years.
“I commend Rutgers Athletics Director Pat Hobbs and Coach Schiano for reaching an agreement following very complex negotiations to bring on this new, exciting chapter for Rutgers Athletics,” Rutgers President Robert Barchi said. “We are all thrilled to welcome Coach Schiano. He is the right coach at the right time to build our Big Ten football program into a long-running source of pride for Rutgers.”
Ole Miss Fires Matt Luke
Ole Miss is moving on from head coach Matt Luke, who was fired on Sunday following three seasons at the helm of the Rebels.
“After evaluating the overall trajectory of our football program, we did not see enough momentum on the field and determined a change is necessary in order for our student-athletes to compete at the highest level” Athletics director Keith Carter said in an official statement.
“While improvements were evident in certain aspects of the program, we are judged ultimately by our record, and, unfortunately, we did not meet the standard of success that we expect from our program. We will always be grateful to Coach Luke for his leadership, particularly from a recruiting, academic and overall culture standpoint. At the same time, winning is important, and we know that we can compete for championships at Ole Miss.
“A search is underway to find a new head coach who can build a complete program that attracts top talent, develops them as young men and sustains a winning mentality. We will be looking for the leadership, energy and commitment to excellence necessary to compete in the Southeastern Conference and galvanize our passionate fan base.”
Luke compiled a 15-21 record during his tenure at Ole Miss.
According to the Clarion Ledger’s Nick Suss, the firing of Luke was not well-received by some of the players, with some storming out of the team meeting angry over the decision.
Many are speculating that the Egg Bowl was what set the firing in motion. However, it is worth noting that attendance was becoming an issue in the midst of a losing season, and with a new athletic director in the fold, change was likely coming sooner or later.
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